F1 2024 predictions: Max Verstappen identifies his biggest threat to more glory

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen with his 2023 trophies.

Max Verstappen and his many, many trophies.

Surveying the landscape for his F1 2024 title defence, Max Verstappen suspects McLaren “might be very strong next year”.

F1 2023 was a story of record-breaking dominance for Verstappen and his Red Bull team, Verstappen winning 19 out of 22 grands prix held as he stormed to a third World Championship.

Red Bull meanwhile won 21, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz the only driver to put a dent in that record via his Singapore Grand Prix triumph.

Max Verstappen backs McLaren to be ‘very strong’

Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin initially fought for ‘best of the rest’ status behind Red Bull, but that trio soon became a quartet when McLaren surged forward with their MCL60.

Ending the season with nine podiums scored, while Oscar Piastri won the Qatar sprint race, McLaren take a great deal of momentum into F1 2024 and have certainly caught Verstappen’s attention.

“We were the only team that was really consistent,” said Verstappen on Red Bull’s ‘Talking Bull’ podcast. “That’s the thing that behind us, it was really up and down and it was one team second and another team, so that’s why the battle was quite close behind us.

“So it will all depend on how much they will improve in the wintertime. Which one I think was the most impressive behind us from where they started to where they ended, was definitely McLaren. So it looks like they might be very strong next year.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2024 calendar: Car launch dates, pre-season testing, TV schedule

F1 schedule: When is the next F1 race and where is it being held?

Both Verstappen and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner have already stated their expectation that the grid will converge for F1 2024, so Verstappen was asked whether he will attack F1 2024 any differently to how he went about his season of dominance just gone?

“Every year is a little bit different,” he replied. “That also depends, of course, how good the car is going to be.

“But I think you also just rely a lot on your experience. I mean, you’ve experienced already I think a lot in your career and in F1 and you know that if you want to fight for a championship, of course, the most important thing is the car, but besides that is your performances need to be very consistent.

“And that’s something that you have to try and achieve again and every single year, it’s a new challenge to try and do that.”

Before that though, the drivers have the luxury of some downtime to recharge before the Formula 1 action resumes.

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez is looking forward to putting the travelling on hold, as he prioritises family and friends time in his native Mexico, with visits to the beach and golf course planned.

Verstappen in response detailed his busy winter schedule ahead.

“I can’t really say that, I’m still travelling quite a lot,” he said in reply to Perez’s off-season plans.

“I have to go to a wedding of my brother-in-law in Brazil. So then I will spend Christmas there as well because otherwise I’m travelling back to Europe again. So that will be nice because it’s good temperatures around there at the moment.

“So escape the cold and then I go back to the cold into the snow a little bit, because I haven’t been skiing for like five years, at least five years, so hopefully, I don’t need to call the team start of January that I broke a leg!

“And then slowly when you’re in January, you start training again.”

Should Verstappen claim a fourth World Championship in F1 2024, then it would match Sebastian Vettel’s streak with Red Bull between 2010-13.

Read next: Eddie Jordan tips one F1 team to spring ‘big surprise’ in F1 2024

We’ve been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2024 Sports Podcast Awards! Your votes would be much appreciated and you can head here to cast. Thank you!